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Schmoozing at the Drugstore

June 23, 2008 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent

Potential clientele can be found anywhere, any time

You know how you keep hearing that people want to have bragging rights so that when they come back from a trip they can tell everyone about it? Usually the scenario suggested is a cocktail party or the social club, but I experienced my own “bragging rights” scenario in the Garden City, Long Island, CVS this very afternoon.

If you know Garden City, it’s filled with uber-wealthy people, many of whom have second and third homes. I was standing in the shampoo aisle in the drugstore when I heard a group of people cooing and schmoozing; clearly, they hadn’t seen each other for a long time. There was much small talk, which I ignored, until I heard the wife in the younger couple say, coyly, “Well, you know why we’re here; we’re stocking up because we’re about to go off to the Riviera for two weeks.” The other couple, an older pair (I peeked), oohed and aahed, but was quickly interrupted by the young bride again. “The funny thing is, we just got back from Greece and did all of the islands, including Mykonos and Santorini; we’re recommending our itinerary to everyone.”

I missed some of the other details because people kept bumping into me as I stood there eavesdropping and, frankly, I found that distracting. But then, suddenly a third couple descended on the group and began hugging the older duo, who, apparently, had just had a grandchild but hadn’t had two seconds to mention it to the world travelers. Clearly trumped, the couple with the bragging rights slinked off to the self-tanning aisle as the others congratulated each other and slapped each other on the back. “Grandchildren, that’s what life is all about!” I heard someone yell.

So, yes, there are some things that are more impressive than traveling the Mediterranean but let’s back up for a second. Can you imagine if you had been standing in the shampoo aisle and had heard this group going on about their vacations? Would you have been ready to descend upon them smoothly and integrate yourself into the conversation long enough to let them know that they should book their next trip through you? Would you have had two or three factoids about the best hotels in the Med and been able to name-drop the identities of two general managers who could help you get them the best suite in the house, even during high season?

My point is, socializing doesn’t always go on at the country club or the opera or any of the other venues you’ve been advised to stake out in search of potential wealthy clientele. Even the rich need to buy deodorant and Tylenol and they don’t always have their “people” purchase it for them. It’s important you have your pitch ready no matter where you are, including the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the parking lot to Lord & Taylor’s and even when you’re on jury duty. You never know with whom you’re going to strike up a conversation (or whose personal discussions you’re going to accidentally overhear—even though you’re trying not to), and it’s important that you’re ready to sell yourself in 60 seconds flat. Who knows, you might even meet some nice, regular people along the way, too. As I recall, they travel, too, so you can’t lose!

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